A pinery is a structure dedicated to the growing of pines. In the Victorian period, a number of different types existed. Early on, they were more like lean-to vineries, heated by smoke flues. These tended to give way to rather squat, low ¾-span structures, using slate or glass on the small rear roof, normally with fixed glazed sashes. The required high temperatures were normally achieved by using standard low-pressing pipes instead of smoke flues. At the time the ideal structure was thought to be a compact lean-to, with shallow pitched roof with ventilation at the top and sufficiently wide so as to allow the front and back portions to be utilised for general forcing purposes, keeping the central area for the actual pine growing. Heating was achieved by having several pipes both along the front beneath the staging and along back of the structure. Pits were also seen as useful if the number of pine plants to be cultivated was small.


Lean-to Pinery

Between 1869 and 1873, Messenger was involved with building or providing heating to at least six pineries.



In March, Thomas Messenger provided an estimate to Col. George Hussey Packe of Prestwold Hall, near Loughborough for what appears to have been either a conversion of an existing house to a pinery or the up doing of a pre-existing pinery. The components included a new 30ft. by 5ft. 6in. roof and a 30ft. by 2ft. 6in. box ridge, set of ventilation apparatus for roof as well as 1o iron slide ventilators. The roof was at least partly slated, with William Barker, of Loughborough, providing all the associated brickwork and stonework. The pinery was to have a new heating system comprising of a new boiler, 104 yards of 4-inch, 10 yards of 3-inch, 4 yards of 2-inch heating pipes and 70 cement joints. The quote of £136, included all the new material, labour, painting, brickwork and stonework (£49) along with providing and installing the heating system. At the same time Thomas Messenger quoted for a new pit, including two new 7ft. 4in. by 4ft. 2in. lights, glazed and painted, 84ft. of 5in. by 3in. wall plates, twelve 8ft. long 5in. by 3in. rafters, fixing and painting, heating, including additional size to boiler, 63 yards of 4-inch, 1o yards of 3-inch, 2 yards of 2-inch pipes and 40 cement joints. The price of £45 10s. included £5 15s. for brickwork and stone work as per Mr. Barker (who quoted £5 8s.).

Also in 1869, Thomas Messenger built a pinery for Earl Fortescue of Castle Hill, Filleigh, Devon for £356.


¾-span roof pinery


In December 1872, Thomas Messenger received an order from Mr. R. Wright, the gardener to Thomas Spragging Godfrey jnr, of Balderton Hall[1], near Newark, Nottinghamshire, for a heated 60ft. by 15ft. lean-to vinery and pinery. This was probably built against the south facing wall in the walled garden and it appears that the structure existed into the 1950s[2]. Messenger also provided a 30ft. by 2ft. 6in. iron walkway, together with one or more beds. The heating was provided by a No. 9 boiler, 155 yards of 4-inch,. 5 yards of 2-inch, 6 yards of 2-inch hot water pipes and 130 cement joints. The total price amounted to £233 1s. 3d., which included £107 for the structure, £8 5s. for the iron walk; £15 5s. for the beds, £102 11s. 3d for the heating system (including a length of mains). Being a banker Thomas Spragging Godfrey jnr, wanted a deferred payment arrangement, whereby £100 was to be paid in March, 1873 and the balance a year later. This deferred payment arrangement appears to have been discussed and agreed prior to the order being placed, with Thomas Messenger adding £3 15s. to the overall price.


¾-span roof pinery – Thomas Messenger’s 1870 Catalogue



Messenger undertook the heating of a pinery together with a number of pits, including succession, melon and forcing pits, for Thomas Cordes, of Bryn Glas House, Malpas, Newport. Thomas Cordes was a long standing customer and had donated 3 guineas to Messenger’s subscription fund, following the High Street fire in 1872.



  1. Balderton Hall was built in 1840 by Thomas Spragging Godfrey senior (1801-1859), a banker. In the mid-1930s it was converted into Balderton Hospital, for the care of people with learning disabilities. The hospital closed in 1993 and much of the surrounding land was used for a large (1,150 houses) residential development.

  2. Ordnance Survey Map.